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Sara Landreth Sara Landreth
ITESM, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Expectations
When I first told my friends and family that I was going to study abroad in Mexico they all thought I could never live alone in a foreign country for 4 months, but I really enjoyed proving them wrong. I made the decision to study abroad in high school because I knew that it was the best way for me to improve my Spanish skills. By taking Spanish courses and living with a Mexican family I was able to improve my Spanish skills, but I also developed a love and connection for the Mexican culture. I cannot image how my life would be if I had not had this amazing experience. I was afraid that I would return as a different person, and I actually did, but I returned a much better person.

Classes
My classes in Mexico were drastically different from my classes at UNCG. I took four classes in Spanish and one class in English. I was afraid to take a business class in Spanish because I felt that I could not handle it, but by the middle of the semester I had adjusted and I was very glad that I did. All of my professor were incredibly personal and were always available if I had any problems. Also the sizes of my classes were much smaller, which allowed me to get to know all the international students in the class.

Accommodations
When I first found out that I was going to live with a family I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure about what to expect. Now that I look back on the experience I am exceedingly glad that I did because it helped me to truly understand the Mexican culture. My host mom and I would cook dinner and she even shared all her secret recipes with me. On holidays, the extended family would come in and we would spend hours swapping stories about our lives and families. They loved for me to tell them about the United States, which helped me appreciate my country and I enjoyed hearing all of their stories about Mexico. Overall, living with a family was a great experience and I felt completely safe and cared for the entire time.

Traveling
One of the best parts of being in Mexico was the fact that I was able to travel around without spending a lot of money. Mexico has several nice bus lines that travel throughout the country at really low fairs. I had the opportunity to visit Mexico City, Puebla, Acapulco, Veracruz and Teotihuacan just to name a few. It was the first time in my life when I just packed my book bag and got on a bus and traveled without any cares. I shared so many wonderful memories with all my friends and I will never forget all those great times. I can honestly say that it was the best experience in my life because I grew as a person and I realized the importance of diversity.

Impact on the Future
Being thankful is the most important thing that I learned form being in Mexico. I have always appreciated my family, but now I have learned to not take little things for granted. I have a completely different outlook on life and I am so grateful that I had this experience to show me this. I also feel very close to the Mexican culture and anytime I hear someone speaking in Spanish or if I see Mexican memorabilia I feel like I belong. The Mexican people are some of the most kind and giving people that I have ever met and they accepted me unconditionally. One day I hope to become an advocate for Hispanic rights and to help them improve their conditions of life in areas of poverty.

Advice

  • Don’t listen to people that try to scare or intimidate you about the country.
  • Get a good travel guide and read up on some of the cultural differences.
  • Do your research about the city and country because the more you know the better off you are.
  • Immerse yourself with the locals and learn about their traditions.
  • Never give up because you will always regret it.
 

Page updated: 17-Feb-2009

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